Discussions at the recent 33rd annual session of UNECE’s Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) focused on how to target continued compliance of products with embedded artificial intelligence, reflecting the importance and the challenge that such products can present. The session was also the occasion to launch a new publication on the basics of quality infrastructure to better disseminate the deliverables generated by the Working Party.
Compliance of artificial intelligence
The high-level panel discussion of the 33rd Session was on “How to target continuous compliance; Conformity assessment, legal metrology and market surveillance tools for the changing dynamics of digitals goods.” The main focus of attention was on artificial intelligence embedded within products, recognizing the emerging questions that this technology can raise for quality infrastructure agencies. Many stakeholders are looking at artificial intelligence as a service and how this can assist in expediting trade processes (including border clearance); however, WP.6, however, is unique with its focus on the regulatory challenges – from a compliance perspective – of products that have incorporated such technologies. Two of the main challenges are that such products can evolve with time due to distant updates – so is the product still compliant with regulations after such updates – and that such technology is not unique to a single type or product – so it will be necessary to ensure a horizontal approach to regulatory cooperation across all market surveillance agencies.
WP.6 presented a paper on the topic which outlines the basic principles which should be considered to address regulatory compliance, including several United Nations principles, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the current work within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It also establishes some considerations that market surveillance authorities can take in order to harmonize their approach to the compliance of products with embedded artificial intelligence.
Moving forward, the 33rd Annual Session confirmed that WP.6 should continue to work on this topic. The first objective will be to clearly establish the scope of the work within WP.6 on the matter which may lead to a common regulatory arrangement as outlined in the UNECE Recommendation L.
Better understanding quality infrastructure
The 33rd Annual Session also launched a new WP.6 publication entitled Basics of Quality Infrastructure for Trade. Quality infrastructure is the unsung hero of trade; it is essential for market access whilst promoting essential regulatory objectives such as safety, quality and sustainability in industrial goods. Finding the information on these requirements is often much more complex than identifying trade tariffs and requires a certain level of technical knowledge.
This publication was authored by experts in the field from national regulatory authorities and prominent international organizations such as the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures and the European Cooperation for Accreditation. It provides a baseline understanding of the different elements of quality infrastructure such as metrology, standardization, market surveillance, conformity assessment, and risk management. The main target audience is operators involved in international trade. It can serve as a resource when explaining these requirements to colleagues or supervisors. It can also be useful for experts and government officials already familiar with certain elements of quality infrastructure but seeking more information on the other elements.
The Bureau of WP.6 was elected at this session reflecting the different UNECE sub-regions in its new membership. Ms. Heidi Lund (Sweden) was renewed as chair and Ms. Gabrielle White (Canada) was renewed as vice-chair. Mr. Davit Tkemaladze (Georgia), Mr. Marco Pangallo (Israel) and Mr. Anthony Quinn (USA) joined as vice-chairs.
A “Summary of working practices” was noted by the session, reflecting efforts to streamline and harmonize the internal procedures within WP.6 which was started in 2021. These practices will ensure a transparent and consistent application in the future. The revision of Recommendation K on Metrological Assurance of Conformity Assessment and Testing was also approved.